Reference : Employee discourse: tensions between the use of English and multilingual exchanges in...
Scientific congresses, symposiums and conference proceedings : Unpublished conference
Arts & humanities : Languages & linguistics
Employee discourse: tensions between the use of English and multilingual exchanges in daily work activities
Lejot, Eve mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Identités, Politiques, Sociétés, Espaces (IPSE) >]
Foreign Language Teaching in Tertiary Education IV: Economy and Foreign Languages - 4th International Conference
15-10-2015 to 17.10.2015
Technological Educational Institute of Epirus
[en] Argumentation ; Workplace ; Multilingualism
[en] A number of European projects – ELAN (2006), Dylan (2006-2011), CELAN (2011-2013) – have confirmed the importance of multilingualism in workplaces. They provide evidence that a multilingual environment increases the diversity and the quality of projects, while monolingualism can mean a loss of markets. Economics professors, François Grin and François Vaillancourt (1997), have also demonstrated that managers have higher salaries when they are multilingual. At the same time, 80% of the communication in English in European workplaces is between nonnative speakers (Kankaanranta 2008). Indeed, since the 80s, English as a lingua franca (ELF) has been accepted as the international business language. Although English is not considered a threat to multilingualism (House 2002, 2003), tensions exist between these two forms of communication: ELF and multilingualism.
In this paper, I present an analysis of Airbus and UNESCO employee interviews using argument formula (Ancombres, Ducrot 1983). These two institutions have similar multilingual characteristics, including the use of English as a lingua franca, regular communication with sites in Spanish-speaking areas as well as making available courses in English, French, German and Spanish for employees. My aim is to identify the factors involved when employees switch languages during professional tasks in the workplace.
The initial analysis of what is said before and after the connector “but/pero/aber/mais” within discourse in four languages indicates tensions between the use of English and multilingual exchanges in daily work activities. The combination of “enonciation-frames” (Charolles 1997) and the role of personal pronouns (Benveniste 1974) shows that the employees adapt their communication according to workplace structures: they tend to use English at an executive or a departmental level, while at team and face to face levels their communication benefits from multilingual skills. However employees report exclusively using English to perform their professional tasks, using the connector “but” in order to explain why, when and with whom they switch from one language to another. These language choices depend in part on individual multilingual skills. Three contextual factors were also found to influence the choice of language: the location (headquarters, another European company site, cafeteria, corridor, meeting room, etc.), the time of day (coffee break, lunch, meeting etc.), the composition of the group and the linguistic profile of the interlocutors. The presentation concludes by discussing how the awareness of the tension between the use of English and other languages impact on collecting information, networking in the workplace and increasing work opportunities.
Researchers ; Professionals ; Students

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